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Vegas Casino High 5! (DS) artwork

Vegas Casino High 5! (DS) review


"Folding Early"


“Here’s an interesting fact!” said an HonestGamers.com prompt while I narrowed my eyes in suspicion and annoyance. “Did you know that the most searched for game in our library without a review is Vegas Casino High 5!? On the DS? Isn’t that strange?”

Well, yeah, I guess. Kinda. I mean, let’s not be ignorant; it’s likely to be down to a search engine hiccup somewhere, one misdirecting people looking for one of those online gambling sites with a similar name. Soon to be annoyed people, no less, who discover that instead of finding a viable way to throw their money away, they’re instead on an empty-looking game tab for an obscure DS title. How do I know it’s obscure? Well, because I’ve looked.

I didn’t think I cared. I still don’t think so, but the following words might very well betray that. In the pretense of getting on with my life, I dicked around on the internet in a cunning effort to avoid all that work I’m supposed to be doing. I didn't think it would hurt to punch the game into EBay. I didn't think I would miss the £2 purchasing the game would cost me. I’m not sure how the entire situation has snuck up on me as it has - but here I am. Playing a really bad game on a DS rescued from the dusty draw of forgottenness. Finding the charger was a real bastard.

That introduction is important for the word count padding relevant, because these very specific circumstances are the only reason I could ever imagine spending time and money on Vegas Casino High 5! The entire game is full of a suffocating sense of crushing obsoleteness that it somehow weaves into its very foundation. For instance, you can’t do a second of virtual gambling unless you select yourself an avatar from the game’s rogue gallery of awful, jagged characters. They’re an ugly lot, but don’t you worry -- once this obligatory choice is made, you’ll never see them again.

I honestly don’t know why this selection is necessary. There’s no multiplayer option available, so it’s not like you can play co-op, online or otherwise, where differing character models would be completely viable and helpful. It’s the first of many really bizarre choices Vegas Casino High 5! makes. Like how it only features five playable games, but duplicates the stations you have to interact with multiples time to, I guess, try to replicate the look of a bustling casino. One filled with the ugly character models you’ve had to worthlessly select, all with jerky, limited animation and shambolic, indifferent AI. In theory, it sounds like a reasonable idea to add in a little bit of atmosphere, but it stretches the game world out so far that it doesn't fit on the screen, and navigation of any kind is embarrassingly implemented.

There’s lots of aimless scrolling while you hunt down the game you want to play, or trudge back and forth to the cashier window, because what gamblers are really addicted to is the exhilarating grind of exploration. Regardless of which station you happen to choose, the games included are all exactly the same. There’s no variation between the numerously duplicated slot machines. All the ‘Big-6 Money Reel”’s are the exact same. Every blackjack, roulette or Texas hold ‘em table is occupied by the same large breasted dealer, whose boobs taper off to a pointy point, and whose hauntingly dead eyes bore right through you.

The slot machine options are by far the game’s highlight, and the nicest thing I can say about them is that they’re bare-boned in their mild competence. Mainly, the reason they out-do the rest of the options is because they’re too simple to mess up. Vegas Casino High 5! is one of those DS games. The ones that didn’t embrace the system’s gimmicky features as much as it rugby tackled them to the ground and dry humped them sore. There’s three ways to control your interactions, all of them varying degrees of awful. Using either the touch screen or hard inputs from the control deck means accessing unintuitive sub menus for almost everything that can easily lead to selections you didn’t want to make in double the time you’d like to make them in. Maybe they’re awful because the game doesn't really want you to play it that way. No; not when they’ve gone to all that effort to implement voice commands.

It’s a real case of bending the game around the gimmick until it shatters rather than organically introducing the gimmick to the game. Trying to gamble through voice commands is rage-inducingly broken. Oh, some stuff works. It can recognise simple things like stick or bet, but other words it either completely ignores or translates as something else. Feeling up for a spin on the roulette wheel? Drop some money on evens by telling the DS “even” - what’s the worst that can happen? You could end the game, because it thinks you’ve said “leave”. Then there’s the dozen or so attempts it will take you to get it to recognise something as vital as “fourteen black”. Fourteen black. Fourteen. Black. Four. Teen. Bla. Ck. Fou -- you know what, screw it - Leave. Leave. Le - no, not even!

You can’t lose all your money to these misunderstandings, because options like “all in” do not exist, so bets you make have to be in little increments because this is a game allergic to competent process. While playing blackjack, the game regularly hides your own hand from you, revealing it only in quick flashes, invisible while the computer-controlled cast make their moves. Which they do extremely slowly, staring right ahead and not even physically glancing at their cards as the emptiness that is their eyes focuses, with laser-like precision, off into the distance somewhere.

The world within Vegas Casino High 5! looks and reacts like the air itself has been replaced with petroleum jelly. It’s a special kind of bad, one that’s decided to hang its entire identity off a gimmick which fails spectacularly. It’s also a game you’ll never play, and one I only suffered through because of curiosity and search engine failures. So if you’re one of those people, one of those guys who has stumbled across this review page on route to your nefarious vices, I think you owe me. There’s nothing you can do to return the time I’ve wasted on this nonsense, but the least you can do is get me my £2 back. Maybe you’ll win it on whatever site you’re trying to find. My advice? Bet it all on even.

Wait! Why are you leaving?

1/5

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (July 10, 2016)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Feedback

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honestgamer posted July 10, 2016:

From what I can tell, reading this review was significantly more fun than playing the game. Thanks for covering this vital release!
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EmP posted July 16, 2016:

I would have replied earlier, but I was battling with the rage that crops every time I put some thought into this review. Really, at the root of it all, this was your fault!
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honestgamer posted July 16, 2016:

If you're looking for a palate cleanser, might I suggest The Very Hungry Caterpillar's ABCs (Wii)? Apparently, we've had a lot of people looking for information on that one, lately. It also looks like it might be up your alley! :-D
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EmP posted July 16, 2016:

To EBAY!
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honestgamer posted July 16, 2016:

Looks like it was a download-only title, and it has been pulled from the shop in Europe. I believe it is gone in North America, as well. I've actually bought tons of downloadable stuff for Wii (most of the available library, to avoid missing out on something down the road), but this particular one seems to have been pulled before my somewhat ill-advised spending spree. I guess we'll never be able to cover it!

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